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Creative Ladder Is Partnering With Cannes Young Lions

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National CineMedia (NCM), the largest cinema advertising network, is the U.S. representative for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and the organization has now brought on The Creative Ladder, a nonprofit dedicated to making creative careers more accessible and inclusive for young people, as the official charity partner for the 2023 Young Lions Competition.

The Creative Ladder launched at Cannes Lions last year, founded by Ryan Reynolds, former Adweek international editor David Griner and Dionna Dorsey Calloway, founder of lifestyle brand District of Clothing, with a mission to make creative careers more accessible to those from underrepresented communities. Even though the nonprofit has been in business less than a year, NCM saw the huge potential of a partnership, especially as it aligned with NCM and Cannes Young Lions’ DEI efforts.

“The Creative Ladder’s mission truly speaks to this strategy. We felt they would bring an inspiring challenge to this year’s Young Lions entrants. From our first conversation, it was clear that their team was highly engaged and ultimately we selected them as our partner for 2023,” Amy Tunick, NCM’s CMO told Adweek.

Creative Ladder and NCM’s core audience of young and diverse people is similar, and partnering is mutually beneficial for both organizations.

“Our goal is to connect to inspire and to elevate a new diverse generation of creatives and that’s essentially exactly what NCM is wanting to do as well, they are focused on elevating the best and the brightest young creatives. And it just perfectly aligns with our mission,” Calloway told Adweek.

Reaching out to young creatives

Registration for Cannes Young Lions is now open, and the Creative Ladder is featured in the 2023 U.S. Young Lions brief, with competitions open to young professionals aged 30 and under. The winning teams will represent the country as Team USA at the live global competitions during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June.

“It’s hard to imagine anything more valuable and energizing for a relatively new nonprofit like the Creative Ladder than having hundreds of Americas’ most creative minds brainstorming ideas to spread the word about what we’re building,” said Reynolds in a statement. “I cannot wait to see the ideas the Young Lions competitors come up with. It’s so rewarding to know that today’s rising creatives will be helping us reach and inspire the next generation of talent. What an incredible example of lifting as you climb.”

As part of the brief, NCM and the Creative Ladder will utilize Creative Ladder’s Career Finder, which gathers the quiz taker’s interests and talents and helps them figure out what a good career move might be and what creative careers are out there for them.

Entrants in the Young Lions competition will create an ad or communications strategy that can be implemented by the Creative Ladder. Participants will be tasked with helping the nonprofit address the awareness gap surrounding creative careers. According to an industry survey by the Creative Ladder, 75% of creative professionals—and 78% of nonwhite creative professionals—say they didn’t know their current careers existed when they graduated high school.

Tunick said that the goal of the partnership with the Creative Ladder is to increase awareness and participation in Young Lions, elevate the competition in the industry, and get young people to think about the range of career opportunities they might not know exist.  

Add FCB and judges to the mix

NCM is also partnering with FCB New York to co-produce creative content with Noovie Studios, NCM’s in-house creative group. The upcoming video will feature the Young Lions competitors, judges and Team USA, comprised of the 2023 winners across the film, digital, media, PR and print competitions. 

“FCB is thrilled to partner with NCM and Cannes Lions. Together we hope to create a story that is compelling, informative and inspiring, not just to this year’s participants, but to future Young Lions as well,” said Michael Aimette, co-chief creative officer, FCB New York in a statement.

In addition, the judges for the Young Lions competition have been announced and this year there are over 75 judges for the five competition categories, representing a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds from brands, publishers, agencies and production companies, from Google and Meta to Pereira O’Dell and UM.



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